A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday set aside the appointment of K. Riji John as Vice-Chancellor of the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) as it found that the appointment is in violation of the University Grants Commission Regulations 2018.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chali, while allowing a writ petition challenging the appointment, directed the Chancellor to take fresh steps to appoint a new VC in accordance with the UGC regulations.
The petition was filed by K.K. Vijayan from Kochi. According to him, the appointment of Mr. John was not in consonance with the 2018 UGC regulations. The regulations required the selection committee to submit a panel of three names to the Chancellor unanimously. However, the selection committee had recommended the name of Mr. John alone for appointment to the post. The Chancellor had later notified his appointment.
The petitioner also alleged that the selection committee did not mention the experience Mr. John had in the field of academic excellence. The selection committee had recommended his appointment without ascertaining his credentials. He pointed out that the UGC Regulations required a candidate applying for the post of Vice-Chancellor to have 10 years of experience as a professor in a University” or possess ten years of experience in research and academic administrative organization. But, he did not have both of these qualifications.
The petitioner also alleged that Mr. John had faced disciplinary proceedings at his native university, T.N. University for financial irregularities. As a result, he resigned from T.N. University and joined the fisheries university by direct appointment as Dean of Fisheries. Even his appointment as Dean was illegal, the petitioner alleged..